Freeze order over Binay accounts illegal, says UP law prof | Inquirer News

Freeze order over Binay accounts illegal, says UP law prof

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 04:25 AM May 18, 2015

University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque Jr. RYAN LEAGOGO/ FILE PHOTO

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and critics of Vice President Jejomar Binay may find it difficult to press charges against him over alleged illegal transactions involving his bank accounts that have been frozen by the Court of Appeals, a lawyer said on Sunday.

University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque Jr. said since the Vice President enjoyed immunity from suit and may only be removed from office through impeachment, any case filed against him in court by the AMLC using transactions based on the frozen bank accounts would be dismissed.


In his blog, Roque said the AMLC petition to freeze Binay’s assets and any court action to declare these funds as proceeds of crimes would violate Binay’s immunity from suits.

“It is only a matter of time before the Supreme Court declares the freezing of the assets as being unconstitutional,” Roque wrote.


He recalled that he failed to convince the Supreme Court to allow the prosecution of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for alleged corruption and crimes against humanity.

Roque said the high court refused to follow decisions of its American and British counterparts that narrowed the scope of immunity of impeachable officers.

He said the May 11 freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals on Binay’s assets was “not tantamount to a finding of guilt,” saying the reason for the confidentiality of the AMLC report and its request for the freeze order was to prevent the account holders from concealing their assets.

“Unless the courts declare that the sums are actually fruits of a predicate crime,” he said, “they enjoy the presumption of being clean money.”

He said the freezing of Binay’s bank accounts and the continuing investigation of his alleged ill-gotten wealth was but a “political propaganda” by his enemies who use “Machiavellian” means to ruin his chances to get elected President next year.

P980M deals legal

Also on Sunday, businessman Antonio L. Tiu scored the AMLC for including in its freeze order request his companies’ bank accounts, saying these were all used in legitimate transactions worth about P980 million.


“The AMLC lied to the Court of Appeals and its authorized representatives perjured themselves,” Tiu said in a statement.

Tiu said he received his copy of the order dated May 11 that froze his accounts as well as those of his companies, namely Greenergy Holdings Inc., Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp. and Earthright Holdings Inc.

Tiu said he was disappointed that politicians and the AMLC were willing to risk the future of more than 5,000 employees, farmers and suppliers who were directly and indirectly reliant on his businesses for their livelihood.

“This cycle of politics being involved in business, and business being involved in politics depending on who is in power must be stopped if we want our country to move forward and attain its true potential,” he said.

Deals disclosed publicly

Tiu said that while rules on confidentiality and sub judice barred him from publicly going into details of the ongoing proceedings with the appellate court, anybody can view the transactions involving his companies since these were duly disclosed with the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

“A simple perusal of the disclosures of Greenergy lodged with the PSE (hence, already public and readily accessible) would already belie the claim of the AMLC,” Tiu said.

He said among the transactions that were legitimate and publicly disclosed were Greenergy’s sale of its interest in a biomass power plant for at least P400 million, Earthright’s sale of marketable securities to Greenergy for about P110 million, Greenergy’s acquisition of additional marketable securities of around P170 million and Greenergy’s

receipt of the unpaid subscription that was due from him, Earthright and Sunchamp for more than P300 million.

“Clearly, the AMLC acted in bad faith and deliberately concealed from the Court of Appeals the truth on the transactions that allegedly warranted my inclusion as well as those of my companies in the freeze order,” he said.

Tiu said he and his companies had been preparing for a “barrage of attacks” after he was “dragged” in the Senate hearings involving Binay.

“While I had already conceded that certain government agencies would relentlessly proceed with the attacks even if they have no basis both in fact and in law, I was hoping that the AMLC would be independent from any political pressure or persuasion. Regrettably, my trust in the AMLC was misplaced. Worse, I did not expect that the AMLC would recklessly cause the inclusion of all the bank accounts of my 70-year old mother in the freeze order just to further harass me,” he lamented.


Freeze-order is preventive measure, says legal expert

Binay calls AMLC report ‘one-sided,’ ‘whimsical’

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